Color Color Color!
We’re entering that time of year again- cold and flu season. Did you know that your best defense is whole real food full of Mother Earth’s goodness. These foods are what your body knows how to use as medicine. One of the best ways to stay healthy is by choosing an array of foods to boost your immune system. Eating healthy, antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is an important part of maintaining good immune system health to help ward off infection and illness. While no one food is a silver bullet for optimal immune system function, here are some superstar foods that you should include in your diet, especially when heading into cold and flu season.
Here is what Very Well Family has to say about superfoods for immunity:
Various studies have shown that garlic has antibacterial and antiviral properties. It has been shown to stimulate the production of white blood cells and can act as an antioxidant in the body.
Mushrooms may be a potent weapon in warding off colds, flu, and other infections. Studies on animals have shown that mushrooms such as Shiitake, maitake, and reishi have antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-tumor effects.
Carotenoids such as beta-carotene are important antioxidants that aid in immune system function. Carotenoids are present in bright yellow, orange and green vegetables. It’s important to get a variety of vegetables of different colors because various types of carotenoids are thought to work together to strengthen the body’s immune system.
“Colors are the calling card for carotenoids,” says Dr. Katz. “You want to try to develop a portfolio — get as much of a variety of colors as you can.”
These protein-packed powerhouses of vitamins and minerals are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E, omega 3 fatty acids, and zinc. Studies have shown a link between eating nuts and health benefits such as lower risk of chronic disease.
Berries are rich in vitamin C and bioflavonoids, phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables that may work as antioxidants and prevent injury to cells. One cup of strawberries contains as much as 100 mg of Vitamin C, which is nearly as much as a cup of orange juice. Dark berries such as blueberries are especially high in bioflavonoids. For an optimal immune system boosting effect, eat a bowl of mixed berries rather than just one type.
Omega 3 fatty acids and other healthy fats help increase the activity of white blood cells. They may also play an important role in the production of compounds that regulate immunity in the body and help protect the body from damage from over-reacting to infections. “Omega 3 fatty acids are immune modulators,” says Dr. Katz.
One thing to keep in mind when choosing fish: Pregnant women and young children should avoid high mercury fishes like King Mackerel, Tilefish, Shark, and Swordfish. See the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Food and Drug Administration fact sheet about mercury in fish.
“Kids, like adults, are deficient in omega 3 fatty acids,” says Dr. Katz. The best way to get omega 3 fatty acids is by eating fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel. Another good source is krill oil capsules. Other sources of omega 3 fatty acid: Flax seeds, flax oil, and walnuts.
Here’s some happy news for chocolate lovers everywhere: Cocoa is an immune-boosting food. “Cocoa is a concentrated antioxidant,” says Dr. Katz. As long as you keep the sugar and fat to a minimum, unsweetened cocoa, and cocoa powder may play a role in immune system health. Studies have shown that regular consumption of cocoa may reduce heart disease risk, help raise good cholesterol, and possibly reverse blood vessel damage in people with diabetes.
Remember to access “The Dirty Dozen” at EWG.org for fruits and vegetables that are high in pesticides and herbicides. These are recommended to be organic as well as chocolate.
Happy Healthy Eating!
Although referred to as a grain, quinoa is actually a seed from a vegetable related to Swiss chard, spinach and beets. Quinoa is pronounced "keen-wah.” The trick of this Super Food is learning to pronounce it!
The Inca referred to quinoa as the "mother seed," and considered it to be sacred. They grew quinoa in South America in the high altitude of the Andes. It was also their staple food for 5,000 years.
The Spanish conquistadors, not knowing its value, almost wiped out quinoa by making it illegal for Native Indians to grow. In the 1980s, two Americans rediscovered quinoa and started growing it in Colorado. Don’t they always say what is old is new again?
This tiny seeds has so many health benefits I can’t list them, all but here are a few:
Its protein balance is similar to milk and has more protein compared to rice, millet or wheat.
This seed is a good source of riboflavin - riboflavin helps reduce the frequency attacks in migraine sufferers by improving the energy metabolism within the brain and muscle cells. Go Brain power! It is less alkaline forming compared to wild rice, amaranth, and sprouted grains.
Since it is not related to wheat or grain it’s an excellent gluten free choice and an essential staple if you suffer from Celiac disease. Gluten sensitivity is becoming more of an issue in our world because so many processed foods have gluten added.
It only has 172 calories per ¼ cup dry quinoa. Best news yet!
Quinoa contains interesting molecules called flavonoids, which are plant antioxidants that have been shown to have all sorts of beneficial effects on health.
Two flavonoids that have been particularly well studied are quercetin and kaempferol, and they happen to be found in large amounts in quinoa. In fact, the quercetin content of quinoa is even higher than typical high-quercetin foods like cranberries. These important molecules have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties.
Quinoa is coated with a toxic chemical called saponin. It is therefore important to rinse quinoa thoroughly before cooking. Although this awesome grain is a Super Food, it shouldn't be eaten every day. A few times a week is enough. It is high in oxalates which puts quinoa on the caution list for an oxalate-restricted diet. What is an oxalate? This is a naturally occurring molecule in nature. When it is in excess in our body it can form kidney stones, so moderation is the key.
If you are not sure about cooking this amazing seed you don’t have to! We have done it for you at Cuisine for Healing
Try our Vegetable Quinoa Soup or our Chicken Quinoa Salad on Greens with Asian Dressing.
It is delicious!!
Happy Healthy Eating!
My name is Dana Farrell and I love talking about health and wellness! I have all kinds of crazy information in my head just dying to get out. The big question is- who am I? I have been a Registered Nurse for 31 years. I am also a Certified Holistic Health Coach and a Yoga Instructor. I love everything about the human body and how it functions from the crown of your head to the tip of your toes! I really want you to love it too, so every week I am going to bring you new and exciting information hot off the press! Your friends and family will be amazed and speechless when you share what you’ve learned. The best news- you are going to embark on a health and wellness journey that is fun, informative and perfect for you. Follow my blog and see!